Two weeks ago the village, likely at the urging of its insurance carrier, waved a white flag and announced it was settling a lawsuit with embattled and befuddling developer and restaurateur Robert Marani.
This is about the perfect ending to the slow-motion debacle that has been unraveling at Circle and Madison for several years. Fifty thousand of the insurance company’s bucks is a small price to make this story end. We go back and forth trying to decide who is more to blame for this fiasco. Marani, the developer, who was in over his head from the start? Or the village, which mangled the oversight process thoroughly?
Settling the suit was a smart decision, and one that Illinois Counties Risk Management Trust certainly insisted on. At this point we can only speculate, though, since the village, Marani, and anybody else familiar with the terms of the settlement are legally obligated to keep their traps shut.
Without elaborating on the terms, Marty Tellalian, commissioner of public property, said that the settlement amount reflected a cap on what the insurance was willing to cover. Otherwise, “the village is on the hook for the rest,” he said.
We would point out to interested parties that Robert Marani is walking away with a $50,000 settlement. There may be entities interested in that, including HBM Engineering Group LLC, a vendor Marani is indebted to.
This settlement stemmed from a 2009 lawsuit that Marani filed against the village over a dispute involving his Tuscan Lofts luxury condo and commercial development debacle on Madison Street. That argument dates back further, though, to 2007.
In 2007, around the time Marani was fighting the village so he could continue the condo conversion process, he hired HBM Engineering Group LLC to draw the structural plans for the roof and for another project.
Long story short, HBM did the work, but Marani ran out of money, the building was foreclosed upon and HBM was allegedly stiffed to the tune of $23,000, according to HBM engineer Dr. Moussa A. Issa.
We’re guessing HBM will be making a collection call.
We give credit to Village Administrator Tim Gillian and Steve Glinke, the building department head he appointed, for finally bringing some sense from the chaos at Tuscan Lofts. It was a long time coming. Our concerns, then and now, are with the residential and commercial investors who lived through the incompetence and the Marani vs. village battle which supplanted problem-solving.
This was not a good moment for anyone involved, and we are glad it is now finished.